A few hours before sunset April 20, around 15 community activists gathered to collectively rejoice over the guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin.
The gathering took place on the corner of South Bristol Street and West McFadden Avenue, in Santa Ana, following Chauvin’s official conviction on all of the charges brought against him in the death of George Floyd.
Chauvin, is being held in a segregated unit while awaiting sentencing, which is expected to occur around the second week of June.
Despite marking a historic turning point for civil rights cases involving police officers, the busy intersection did not play host to celebratory chants.
Instead, it served as a platform for the participants to continue seeking justice-for-all. Their rally cries perforated by car horns, honking in support, as they zoomed by.
Caroline Wong, the founding member of BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), a Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality — the organization responsible for the demonstration — described how it feels to be receiving so much community support.
“It feels great. But we‘ve got to stay in the streets and keep organizing because the victory isn’t just going to be handed to us.” Wong said.
Organizers from BAMN’s Santa Ana chapter include Wong, Abel De La Cruz, Hoku Jeffrey, and Stephanie Gutierrez — all in attendance — who called for the “emergency protest” in advance of the final verdict regardless of the outcome.
The event was promoted on social media and the BAMN website, which also includes a brief contextual reference to the current civil rights movement, indicated in their official statement, “The fight for justice for George Floyd sparked a historic national movement against racist police brutality and for equality.”
“[…] Whether we reject the decision or celebrate a victory, our movement must show our power in the streets again. We must also demand justice for Daunte Wright, justice for Adam Toledo, justice for Breonna Taylor, [and] justice for Sean Monterrosa!” also in the statement.
Attendee Thetis Meriweather said that there are many more racial justice challenges to overcome, including battling denial that seems to stem from the fear of acknowledging historical wrongdoings. That, in addition to large portions of the population, continuing to buy into harmful stereotypes.
“Minorities are the majority. We have the same oppressor,” he said. Meriweather continued, recalling becoming friends with BAMN organizer, DeLaCruz who invited her to the event. Meriweather explained they joined forces in the summer of 2020 when their organizations were doing two to three protests a day.
“The whole world watched a guy get away with murder, but today, we watched him get [a guilty verdict.] So that’s encouraging, but we still have these cases pending and we need to get that stuff taken care of now. We need justice for everyone.” Meriweather concluded.
There were no city or county officials present at the event, and police officers were not at the scene. Although, at least two squad cars were spotted a few blocks north, converged in a parking lot.
Attendees wore masks and took caution to remain socially distanced.